Introduction

“The Noble Bishop” written by Victor Hugo is a very heart touching story about a kind and humble Bishop,who provides shelter to a convict,Jean Valjean, whom everyone else rejects and shun from even providing a single bit of food .

The play dramatically depicts how the love and the compassion of the Bishop brought about a change of heart in a convict and turned him into a man of promise for a good life. The Bishop was a kind- hearted man who followed the teachings of Jesus Christ in the true spirit. Besides being a true Christian he was also a passionate humanist. He was ready to sacrifice everything to help the needy people.

Bishop thought that if the needy people deceived him, then they are the poorer in spirit and not he. His door was never shut and it was always opened for people. The convict ,Jean Valjean was released from a prison after serving nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread and for ensuing attempts to escape from prison. After entering into the town, no one was willing to give shelter to Jean Valjean because he was an ex-convict. Valjean knocks desperately on the door of the kind Bishop. The bishop treated Valjean with kindness but Valjean stole the silverware from the Bishop’s house. When the police arrested Valjean,the Bishop defended him, claiming that the silverware was a gift. The authorities thus spared Valjean and the Bishop asked him to become an honest man.

The Convict

Jean Valjean was a poor man who lived with his sister along with her seven children. One day his sister fell ill and the family starved. Jean Valjean searched for employment because he couldn’t see his family starving but he could not get it from anywhere. At last having no other option to earn money, Valjean opted the path of theft. He stole some bread but he was sentenced to nineteen years in the galleys. His life was absolute hell then. They chained him like a wild beast and treated him very cruelly. Everytime he tried to escape,he was caught and the court increased his sentence. He led the life of a prisoner for nineteen years and he came out with a stone heart.

He wandered for three days without food. People treated him as a convict. Finally he reached the house of Bishop and asked for food shamelessly. The bishop told his sister, Baptistine to put another place for Jean Valjean and also to put some sheets on the bet in the alcove. The Bishop addressed him as friend and told him to feel at home. There was a little lamp, which gave poor light. So the Bishop told his sister to bring silver candlesticks and light them. Baptistine brought them and served the dinner which consisted of soup, cheese, mutton and a large loaf of bread. The convict ate the food quickly and narrated his story of struggle and prison life.

After hearing the entire story of the convict, the Bishop told him to forget everything and sleep peacefully. Jean Valjean fell asleep but he woke up at the middle of the night because he had not slept on such a comfortable and long bed for the past years.

The Noble Bishop

Then the clock struck two when Jean Valjean began thinking about the silver ware. He wanted to steal them. He came to the adjacent room and observed that the rays of moonlight shone on the Bishop’s face. Then he were straight to the cup board, took the silver ware and escaped.

Baptistine informed her brother (the Bishop) about the theft. Unexpectedly the Bishop didn’t loose his temper. He only told that the silverware belonged to the poor. During this time, four policemen entered the house of the Bishop and they ensured that Jean Valjean had stolen their silverware. On seeing him, the Bishop informed the policemen that he had given the sliver ware to the Valjean.

Filled with emotion, Jean could not believe the nobility of the Bishop. The Bishop was so humble that he told Jean to take all the candlesticks with him and his doors are always open for him. Jean Valjean was very grateful and thankful to the Bishop.

Impressed by the nobility of the Bishop and trust, Jean led a life of an honest man and lived happily helping the poor people like himself.